By Derek Liebig
The Whitehall varsity indoor track and field team hopes a near record turnout will help them overcome the loss of several top performers from last year’s squad.
“We have more kids out than we’ve ever had,” said head coach Mike Collier. “We have a lot of newcomers trying out.”
The squad will need some of those younger kids to step up immediately if the team is to compete after losing several standout athletes from last year, including, Jared DeRusha, Jake Evans and state finalist Kelsie Benjamin, who is the only freshmen girl to make the indoor track team at the University of Vermont this season and is assisted the coaching staff on her winter break.
That’s not to say the team is devoid of any talent.
Three-time defending sectional race-walk champion Marion Gendron returns to the squad and will compete in several jumping and intermediate distance racing event, while Maggie Benjamin steps into to fill the void left by Benjamin and Georgette Hasson.
The boys will be led by PJ Ferguson, who established himself as one of the area’s most talented long distance runners this fall, as well as fellow cross country runner Mike Mattison and Toran Tracy, who will also play basketball.
Behind them are a group of seventh, eighth and ninth graders.
“We have a good group of younger kids,” Collier said. “When you have numbers, you have potential.”
The team will look to groom some of that potential for the future. Vicky Koeble who had a successful debut on the varsity cross country team this fall could make some solid contributions this year, and Morgan Winters who qualified for the team as a seventh grader and whose father holds the school record in the 100 meters could make contributions in the next few years.
Because Indoor Track requires large indoor facilities, all of the teams meets are held at Hudson Valley Community College, Union College or the University of Albany.
The team’s first meet will be held at 8 a.m. on Dec. 3 at HVCC. The League Champions are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29 at U-Albany.
2011-12 Indoor Track Roster
Sunday, Dec. 18
League Meet No. 3 at HVCC, 1:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 28
League Meet No. 4 at HVCC, 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 8
League Meet No. 5 at Union, 8 a.m.
Saturday, Jan. 14
League Meet No. 6 at Union, 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 29
League Championship at U-Albany, 9 a.m.
Sunday, Feb. 12
Great Dane Invitational at U-Albany, 8:30 a.m.
Monday, Feb. 20
Division 4 Championship at U-Albany, 8 a.m.